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Habs' Monahan could fetch a first-round pick at deadline

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Less than two years ago, the Montreal Canadiens received a first-round pick from the Calgary Flames for taking Sean Monahan - and his then-$6.375 million cap hit - in a trade.

Now, TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports the Canadiens could receive a first-round draft pick in return for Monahan at this year's trade deadline. 

"Another player that may be chasing a Stanley Cup is Sean Monahan, a pending UFA centre," LeBrun explained on Insider Trading Tuesday. "The Montreal Canadiens most likely will be dealing him, although they haven’t completely closed the door on talking to him about the future and a potential extension. 

"All things being equal, I do think he’s going to get dealt. Word right now from talking to teams around the league is that teams haven’t put their best foot forward yet. They’re checking in and telling the Canadiens that they want to be in the mix, 'don’t do anything without checking back with us,' but teams seem to want a couple more weeks before getting more serious in their conversations with the Habs on Monahan. 

"Part of that I think is attached to the centre market, Elias Lindholm of Calgary being at the top of it, and that having some kind of impact on Monahan. 

"The question is this, could Sean Monahan fetch a first-round pick? From talking to a couple of teams today, a lot of people point to his less than $2 million AAV and say yes, especially if the Habs are willing to eat 50 per cent of that. 

"Stay tuned, Monahan is going to be a hot name before March 8."

Monahan, 29, has 13 goals and 35 points in 49 games this season after being limited to 25 games due to injury last year.

He re-signed with the Canadiens last summer on a one-year, $1.985 million contract, with TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reporting earlier this month that the two sides agreed he would be moved to a contender near the deadline at that time. 

"No different from any other year, there are teams looking for centremen and depth at that position – or a top-two or top-three centreman," Dreger said on Insider Trading on Jan. 11. "We're looking at Colorado. We're looking at Boston, the Edmonton Oilers, maybe even the Washington Capitals if they stay in the mix leading up to the trade deadline. Twenty-nine-year-old Sean Monahan of the Montreal Canadiens is healthy, and he is having a decent year.

"You gotta go back to the off-season and when the Canadiens signed the veteran forward. They had an agreement that said we will trade you when the time is right to a contending team or a team of your choice. Nothing has changed there. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Monahan was among the first forwards to get dealt before the deadline."

The Canadiens currently sit nine points back of the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Montreal is on track to miss the playoffs for the third straight year after reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2021.